Keywords: Chinese wares, “fritware”, lustre-painted ceramics, Seljuk, mina’i, Shahnama, Misr, glazed ceramics, khazaf, fakhkhar, ghadar, sini, slip-painted pottery, Islamic glazed ware, Iraqi potters, Iznik wares.
Around the year 1135 CE, a merchant from Aden wrote the following letter to his counterpart in Egypt: “Please buy me six painted platters, made in Misr [Old Cairo]. They should be of middle size, neither very large nor very small; and twenty regular bowls and forty small ones. All should be painted, and their figures and colours should be different.”
The history of ceramic production in the medieval Muslim world, from the period of the Umayyads in the seventh century CE to the Ottomans and Safavids in the seventeenth century CE, attests to the superior creativity and experimentation of Muslim potters, demonstrated through their innovations in shape and design, clay recipes, glazes, and techniques of decoration. Glazed ceramics represent a very small percentage of the total ceramic assemblage produced in the medieval Muslim world.
Professor Azim Nanji serves currently as Special Advisor to the Provost at the Aga Khan University. Most recently he served as Senior Associate Director of the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University 2008-2010 and also lectured on Islam in the Department of Religious Studies. He was previously the of Director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies from 1998 - 2008.
Zulfikar Hirji is an Anthropologist and Social Historian of Muslim Societies and Cultures. He is currently Associate Professor of Anthropology at York University, Toronto. He was formerly a Research Associate at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, and Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford.